Blended travel is here to stay and encourages sustainable travel
In this episode, Charlotte Lamp Davies (A Bright Approach) talks to Stephen Dutton, Client Insights research manager at Euromonitor International, who together with his team has closely examined this phenomenon. At the start of the episode the two guests distinguish between ’bleisure’ and ’blended travel’. Whereas the former could already be observed before the pandemic, mixing conventional business travel with highlights here and there, blended travel is clearly the result of a post-Covid change in work culture. In the meantime, business trips have declined significantly, while blended travel is becoming increasingly popular as a new form of travel.
Greater flexibility at the workplace
Instead of “business first“, employers are tending more and more towards “leisure first“. Greater flexibility means that private activities can of course now be more easily combined with job commitments. Dutton mentions the often-quoted examples of digital nomads and freelancers, whose job descriptions go in hand in hand with a high degree of flexibility. Many companies also give their employees the option of working remotely at least part of the time. He often makes use of this opportunity himself, he says, as his employer lets him work from anywhere in the world up to 15 days a year. As an American living in Germany, he takes up the annual offer to spend as much time as possible with his family and friends in Boston, while he uses the city as a kind of starting point for local trips.
Destinations benefit from blended travel
Dutton emphasises the positive impact of this type of travel on destinations. Flexible workers usually have a higher income and in keeping with their lifestyle spend more money locally – in shops as well as restaurants. That makes blended travel very attractive for destinations, so that some have already grasped the opportunity to incentivise this form of travel. Examples are easier visa applications or a special focus on certain audiences by tour operators. Hotels for instance are paying greater attention to an infrastructure that makes working online locally easier. In principle, it is conceivable that destinations could make blended travel part of their marketing by impressing upon the local population how the phenomenon benefits their economy and that it is much more sustainable than large numbers of repeated short trips.
Finally, Charlotte Lamp Davis asks whether traditional office work and the previously experienced volume of business trips are likely to return. Things will certainly no longer be the way they were, Stephen Dutton says. Technological innovation and greater flexibility offer many more options than in the past – what is more, companies can hire employees in virtually any place in the world, so a certain freedom will always be the result. Accordingly, the future looks good for blended travel.
You can listen to the full episode here: www.itb.com/podcasts